I notice three qualities that successful artists have in common. When they are all present in one’s consciousness, it draws attention, success, multiplies, and grows.
People want to be around them, work with them, and it draws like a magnet. When just one is missing, it can cause wariness, insecurity, distrust, and failure. They are equally important, and that is where most artists fail, as they don’t hold them as equal weight.
Actors work in collaborative arrangements, and that is even more a reason why you need to hold these values. They are simple enough. I am referring to talent, commitment, and your word.
Talent – This is easy enough, you need to have talent for what you want to do. It’s also the easiest to see, it’s right there in front of people when you work. So, for talent, it means doing the work to cultivate and grow. Actors do this with classes, coaching, working, being in environments where they not only show their talent but grow their talent. All actors need a place where they can harvest their individual talent. Work, classes, theatre companies, independent collaborative projects are places where actors work their talent.
Commitment – This takes more to see. Talent is one thing, but where is the commitment? Standing in your commitment is a quality that people take notice of over time, and react to. This is one area where many actors are admired by their colleagues and other artists, that being the commitment they show and have towards their work. It shows up in their auditions, energy, work ethic, classes, and in their networking activities. People who see committed people respect them and like to be around them. I see this all the time in my classes and our theatrical projects. When an actor, writer, or director is committed, others migrate to work with them, almost wanting some of it to “rub off” on them.
The last and most not taken seriously is “Your Word”. There is a difference between your commitment and “your word”. You are your words. It defines your character. I say in my classes, “How you do anything is how you do everything”. People pay attention to your word, it is a reflection of your character. It also takes the longest to discover in someone, as you need to hear their word and then experience if they live up to it.
I have seen theatre company after theatre company fall apart over these simple concepts.
Talented people get together, they make a commitment and are committed, and then over time don’t keep their word. Chaos, paranoia, distrust, and bitterness follow. I understand that commitments change, as our lives change, of course, but your word is your character. It’s your integrity. Many people don’t hold themselves to that. I’ll see a talented, committed actor get hired, and by the end of their project, maybe hasn’t learned their lines, hasn’t kept their word on several production issues, and no one wants to work with them again. I’ve seen talented writers, committed obviously as I would read several of their wonderful scripts, then see them not keep their word with deadlines. They are talented, committed, but don’t keep their word.
I’ve seen acting classes fall apart because the teacher or students in class failed on either working on their talent, not committing to their work or partners, or not keeping their word. This is a simple concept, but big. It is particularly important for those in the entertainment industry because all of what each of us do, is intertwined and dependent on others.
Actors, writers, directors, set designers, wardrobe people, all have to be talented of course, committed, and keep their word. All three. Commitment and your word are the silent killers. So many actors and writers I meet are talented and focus all their attention on their talent, which is good, but their word and commitment is not strong enough.
Check in with yourself, I’m sure you have talent and are committed to your work and craft. Are you a person that keeps your word? Is that important to you? It defines your character. Know the difference between being committed and keeping your word.
An artist needs to have all three. That creates a strong, powerful person with integrity. One that people want to be around, and attracts other like-minded, successful people.
Till next time.